The Eurofighter was supposed to become a single fighter for the whole of Europe, but, despite its pretty good performance, it fell victim to collegial decisions.
The issue of Ukraine receiving modern Western fighters still remains, albeit at the official level, but only conversations. At the same time, as the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Charles Brown said, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are considering the possibility of transferring not only American aircraft, but also European fighters.
For each option, and we are talking about: the heavy F-15, the land version of the carrier-based F / A-18, the light F-16, the French Rafale, the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen, UNIAN has already made a separate review. And the last hypothetical candidate is the pan-European Eurofighter.
Eurofighter – born in pain
Eurofighter Typhoon – namely, such a full name of the aircraft, it is impossible to call a machine with an easy fate. This multifunctional 4+ generation fighter was born from the 70s in the idea of creating a single aircraft, created by the joint efforts of the main European NATO member countries: Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
But the more states try to agree, the more difficult it is to implement at least something. As a result, France withdrew from the project, which developed its Rafale, and the development of the Eurofighter constantly suffered from a lack of funds, changes in plans, almost closed due to Germany’s desire to save money against the background of the intentions of other countries to redistribute the burden of funding, which, even at the prototype level, was pulled by 180 million pounds.
This was accompanied by the desire of governments to concentrate the production of the main components of the aircraft at home, as well as litigation between developers from different countries. For understanding, even the name Typhoon became the subject of fierce debate, because the Germans saw it as an allusion to the British WWII fighter. But after the proposal to name the aircraft Spitfire II, generally in honor of the British victory symbol, the question was removed.
As a result, only in 1994 did the Eurofighter make its first flight, and it received a real order only at the end of 1997. But even this order was never fully executed. For example, the UK ordered 232 aircraft, but actually bought 160, Italy 121 – 96 units. And this was by no means compensated for by the easy overfulfillment of plans by Germany – 180 ordered 181 received, as well as by Spain – 87 – 93 received fighters.
The Eurofighter did not become a bestseller in the foreign market either; only Austria ordered 15 aircraft in Europe. At the same time, the Eurofighter has taken a fancy to the Middle East: Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ordered 136 aircraft together.
Features and features of the Eurofighter
The “trail” of discord that followed the development created around the Eurofighter, to some extent, not a very positive role. Although in fact the aircraft has quite good characteristics. Especially after the completion in 2014 of the program to add missiles from MBDA. After that, as stated by the manufacturers, the aircraft finally reached full capabilities in the destruction of air and ground targets.
At the same time, the flight characteristics of the aircraft are also quite high. With a maximum takeoff weight of 23.5 tons, the mass of weapons at 13 suspension points is 9 tons. The rate of climb at 315 m/s and the canard aerodynamic design make it quite maneuverable in close combat. More than high-quality speed indicators: the maximum speed is Mach 2.25, the possibility of non-afterburning supersonic flight is Mach 1.5.
A relatively weak point of the aircraft is the Captor radar, created using the technologies of the previous generation. It was only in 2014 that a synthetic aperture radar was created for the Eurofighter with characteristics that really make it possible to call it modern. In particular, it declares its ability to detect the stealth F-35 stealth fighter at a distance of 60 km, and the maximum detection range of conventional targets is up to 280 km.
By the way, the aircraft also has a passive thermal sensor, which allows you to detect and fire at air targets without turning on the radar. Also, the aircraft is fully integrated into the general information exchange system and can launch missiles at targets that it does not even see itself. It is worth adding that when creating the aircraft, special attention was paid to its visibility on radars, which, of course, does not make it a stealth fighter, but definitely not as noticeable as some other 4th generation aircraft.
In parallel, in each developing country, work is underway on further upgrades. In particular, work on the installation of conformal fuel tanks, an engine with a replaceable thrust vector, and even refinement of the airframe.
But each update of the aircraft, especially against the backdrop of a slow pace of production, increases its price tag. In 2007, the German Luftwaffe estimated the total cost of the aircraft, parts and training at 120 million euros. And at the level of 2022, the price of one Eurofighter will be much higher, both because of inflation and because of the constant updates of the machine and the addition of new systems to it. Moreover, due to the cost of updates, not all aircraft produced are upgraded to modern versions.
And without these updates, the combat capability of the aircraft is drastically reduced. In particular, back in 2017, Austria decided to abandon the Eurofighter until 2023, due to the high cost of operation and the ultra-high cost of modernization.
The Austrian military estimates that the cost of maintaining the combat capability of 15 Eurofighter aircraft over 30 years will cost $4.4-5.1 billion, including repairs, upgrades and maintenance. By the way, the cost per flight hour of this aircraft is the most speculative topic. While some sources claim an indicator of 8.2 thousand dollars per hour, others indicate 18 thousand.
Characteristics of the Eurofighter
- Crew: 1 person (optional 2)
- Wingspan: 10.95 m
- Max takeoff weight: 23.5 v
- Engine: 2×9177 kgf
- Max speed: 2.25 Mach
- practical ceiling: 19.8 km
- Maximum flight range: 3790 km
- suspension points: 13
- Maximum combat load: 9 v